Surviving the transformation of New Zealand cuisine, the popularity of fish and chips hasn’t diminished. The beer-battered fish, twice-cooked chips, and delicious roasted red pepper tomato sauce place these fish & chips well above the take-away version.
New Zealand has strong links to its British heritage, including cuisine. Fish and chips was always a treat from the kid’s point of view and a relief for the person normally tasked with cooking dinner (thanks D). This beer batter fish and chips recipe is honouring that memory.
To prove the point, the www.newzealand.com website lists fish and chips among New Zealand’s favourite foods, along with whitebait fritters, the hangi, roast lamb, and the pavlova. All good company to keep. The adopted tradition has even expanded beyond New Zealand’s expansive coastline to Bangkok at Snapper.
And then there was a recent visit to New Zealand, and the kiwi tradition of fish and chips on the beach with friends, here at Waikanae…
The complexity of cooking chips
Given this heritage and profile, a beer batter fish and chip recipe is clearly more than just frying some potatoes and battered fish. I had to explore this iconic dish. This Epicurious recipe was a good start. Twice frying the chips, and the precise temperature of the oil, were two key learnings.
Since cooking this dish, I have eaten at Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant in Melbourne. Of course, I had to try his 3 times cooked chips. Heston’s technique is to boil the potatoes before twice frying. Though it further extends the cooking time, the crisp exterior and fluffy interior were unlike any chips I have ever eaten. His technique is described in The Fat Duck Cookbook. As with many of his techniques, it won’t be easy to replicate exactly at home. But I will work on a simplified version.
The roasted red pepper tomato sauce
Watties tomato sauce (aka ketchup) was the go-to condiment in my childhood. It was really no more than a red coloured salty-sweet flavour enhancer. I wanted my version of fish and chips to have something more genuinely complimentary, and this roasted tomato sauce did the trick. Healthy, not at all dominant, though definitely, flavour enhancing. Roasting the tomatoes brings a wonderful sweetness to balance the tomatoes natural acidity.
It wasn’t included in the tradition of fish and chips accompaniments, but a mixed green leaf salad provides a nice counterpoint to the fried ingredients. Drizzled, of course, with a delectabilia salad dressing.
Fish & chips with a roasted red pepper tomato sauce
Roasted red pepper tomato sauce
Fish and chips
- 5 large potatoes or 8 medium ones
- 800 g white fish fillets as fresh as possible, deboned, firmer fish preferred
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 litre vegetable oil or more if you have a deep fryer
- 350 ml cold beer preferably ale
Roasted red pepper tomato sauce
- Wash, trim, and halve the tomatoes and red peppers
- Place on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper
- Bake at 150 degC for 2 hours
- Peel and dice the onion and garlic
- Sauté in olive oil in a large saucepan until transparent
- Add the tomatoes, peppers, vinegar, and water to saucepan
- Use an immersion blender to reduce the vegetables to a pulp
- Add the spices and simmer over a low heat for 1 hour
- Allow to cool
- Press cooled ingredients through a sieve. Discard skins and spices.
- Check seasoning and add salt if necessary
- Store in the refridgerator for up to a week, or freeze.
- Peel the potatoes and cut into 10 cm thick wedges
- Transfer to a large bowl of ice and water and chill for at least 30 minutes
- Heat the oil in a frying pan until it reaches 165 degUse a cooking thermometer.
- Fry a 3rd of the potatoes until just starting to become golden. About 4 minutes.
- Transfer to paper towels to drain.
- Return the oil to 165 degC.
- Repeat for the 2nd and last third.
- Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes, or up to 3 hours ahead of the final fry.
- Preheat the oven to 120 degC.
- Bring the oil in the frying pan up to 180 degC.
- Fry the chips again, one third at a time, until golden. About 5 minutes. Return the oil to 180 degC between each batch.
- Drain the chips on paper towels then transfer to the oven to keep warm.
- Cut fish into 20 ml thick pieces.
- Sprinkle fish pieces with salt and freshly ground black pepper, both sides.
- Whisk 1 1/2 cups of flour with the beer.
- Dredge fish in the remaining 1/2 cup of flour, then coat in the batter
- Bring the oil in the frying pan up to 190 degC.
- Slide the battered fish into the hot oil, 2 or 3 pieces at a time. Turn regularly. Remove once crisp and golden in colour, about 5 minutes total.